April 1 marked the start of a busy week. No fooling. Key jobs numbers are pending and there will be more Fedspeak. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was higher by 0.1% last week, the S&P 500 gained 0.2%, and the Nasdaq fell 0.1%. For the quarter and year-to-date, the DJIA is up 5.6%, the S&P is up 10%, and the Nasdaq is up 9%, notes John Eade, president of Argus Research.

On the economic calendar, the big day is Friday, with the release of the March jobs report. In February, nonfarm payrolls came in at 275,000 and the unemployment rate was 3.9%. We see jobs dropping to 180,000 for March and forecast no change in unemployment.

Meanwhile, ten Federal Reserve officials have public events scheduled. But the earnings calendar is light this week.

Today, Paychex and Dave & Buster’s report. On Wednesday, Levi Strauss and BlackBerry. And on Thursday, Conagra Brands. Earnings season starts the following Friday, with many of the country’s biggest banks stepping up to the plate.

Last week, a key inflation indicator showed prices seemingly stuck at current levels. PCE printed at 2.5% for January, which was a tick higher than in January. Core PCE was 2.8%, a hair lower than last month.

Mortgage rates dropped to 6.79% for the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. Gas prices jumped another seven cents to $3.52 per gallon for the average price of regular gas. The Atlanta Fed GDPNow indicator is forecasting for 1Q and calls for expansion of 2.3%. The Cleveland Fed CPINow indicator is forecasting 3.41% for March.

The next Fed rate decision is on May 1, with odds for a rate cut at 4%. That’s lower than last week and follows recent stubborn inflation data. The following meeting is in mid-June, when odds go up to 64%. After that, the Fed meets at the very end of July, with odds for a rate cut up to 78%.

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